Two weeks ago there was a Green Festival in Oslo and I was went to a panel discussion on Global Warming - which was fortunate because I was not aware that the main speaker, who introduced the subject before the panel discussion was Dr. James Hansen. Hansen is the American scientist, who more than any other has made his life into a mission to mobilize people everywhere to take action on atmospheric CO 2 to prevent overshooting 450 ppm and re-stabilize the global climate by reducing to 350 ppm.
Dr Hansen’s presentation was thorough, polished and convincing - as he both asked and answered the many key questions and doubts that people may have about the science and the key conclusions - encouraging us to set aside skepticism and apathy and collectively to begin effective action to change the trend and reduce the threat that our future and that of the next generations will be one of survival in world unlike the one that has sustained life as we know it.
It was refreshing to see that the diverse panel of Norwegians (who fortunately for me continued the discussion in english) lost no time to skepticism and denial and zeroed in on the gap between the government supported goals for change and the fact that globally, and even in Norway who’s social minded government is setting even more ambitious targets for action that the EU, there is still no correlation between the political commitment (laws) and real action. In fact the negative trends are increasing and there is a disconnect between stated goals and seeming awareness of the urgency and the actual continuing increase in the rate of GHG release across most sectors. The discussion was honest and self-critical and the audience participation moved in the same direction, until at the end of the allotted time, one could say that it had become “soul-searching”.
This is not an easy subject and while there were a number of very good solutions presented, none of them are going to be easy and some are likely to be personally and socially challenging to our desires for a quality of life that is prosperous and provides expanding opportunities. Consumption can be reigned in but increasingly efficient and lower-cost products make consumption more accessible to ever more people - and at the base of the pyramid, where population is growing most quickly, the people aspire to have more of the essentials of a “good life” and even their modest gains can obviate contraction in consumption by the top end of the consumers.
The honestly evaluated trends and realities of population growth and geo-politics makes the goal of CO 2 reduction seem intractable, within the time frame that we have available to avoid the overshoot into the future of Global Warming that results in really dangerous Climate Change - that would bring with it many other resource conflicts and a cascade of natural disasters that would seem to put the world on a slippery slope to chaos and the destruction of human “civilization” and perhaps a global extinction event by runaway global heating.
At the intermission, before the panel discussion started, I noticed that Dr Hansen was not overwhelmed with people seeking his attention. Perhaps there was little that could be said to a man of such deep knowledge and sincere concern - as he ended his presentation with slides of his children and grandchildren and his concern for their future. But I was feeling that, as a Canadian, I could at least extend my apology for our national abdication of responsibility by the development of Alberta’s Tar Sands. I said that like him I do my best in my personal life to try to make a difference and raise the level of hope for effective action to reverse the trends and save the future for our grandchildren. So, after sharing some further thoughts on the political barriers to action, James asked what I am doing to make a difference, and then I told him about my life as inventor of Sola Roof. I basically had the 15 minute intermission to sketch out the breakthrough for buildings, food, water and energy that is enabled by Sola Roof.
During the previous month, when I have been at conferences in Amsterdam and Brussels and presenting to potential collaborators, such as Tamera Eco Village? in Portugal, I have been sharpening my message to get across an understanding that there is completely free and open access to the Sola Roof solution, which is firmly committed to Open Source development and use under a Creative Commons Public License. And I emphasize that the key component, Liquid Bubble Insulation & Shading costs next to nothing and is a low-tech answer for reduction of the cost of heating and cooling by ten times or more, while providing a high degree of comfort and productivity that can include growing plants and algae for abundant food, energy and water from our investment in “GardenHomes” and the “built environment” of sustainable communities.
Very quickly James absorbed this information and learned that I have building such “living structures”, mostly for the greenhouse application, for 40 years, with much laboratory studies, having at one time a fully functional research center in Quebec, and large scale commercial greenhouse testing that was successful near Calgary. Additionally a few other significant projects have been studied or implemented in several countries that include DIY greenhouses, one of which, near Ottawa, has celebrated 10 years of continuous operation. I told Dr Hansen that I am now especially focused on the empowerment of a Sola Roof DIY community, with the focus on the DIY Food Campaign. Then the panel discussion got started and we broke off our conversation, but at the end of the program James and I resumed talking and he had especially one question: Why is a breakthrough like my invention of Sola Roof taking so long to get to market or even visibility?
This is the most usual question that I get from people. James, who could very quickly see the simple but effective science behind the Bubble Tech, was asking this question not with skepticism but rather with a sense of confusion at why Sola Roof would be overlooked for so long. I said in answer that I have puzzled over this same question for many years and the best answer that I have is that Sola Roof is a very disruptive solution and adoption would “change everything” which is a degree too far for most people - especially those who would be the usual “channels to market” for such innovation.
There was no more time to expand on the idea of disruptive technology, but I would add some thoughts here at my Wiki Blog (perhaps Dr Hansen will see it) to suggest that when a solution is not at all what is expected, then it seems that the mind/emotions can make that option vanish as if it were not real. I feel that business in particular is non-responsive due the real problem is that there is no way to make profit on Liquid Bubble Insulation; in fact the only certain thing is that bubbles in buildings would change the business of the entire sector and will simplify and empower self-builders and benefits would be gained mostly by building owners/users rather than the supply chain, who would simply have their businesses disrupted - therefore providing very little incentive to the industry to adopt and put the technology into supply.
Therefore, I started in 2010 with giving a greater priority given to an exciting focus on Sola Roof DIY and because of this strategy I have more hope to breakthrough the barriers to change within the building sector. This DIY initiative will give high visibility to the substantial social benefits and wealth generating power of Sola Roof and these first users will begin to pioneer the Eco Living lifestyle that will flow from our new Blue Green paradigm. Now I look for people who are seeking to be pioneers; those people who sincerely want a future of abundance and are eager to learn by doing and are willing to share their experience with a global collaborative community of users (DI Yers) and a create a cooperative, open manufacturing and supply sector, many of whom will help us form and grow the Sola Roof SE Net (Social Enterprise Network) that will empower our user community. The Sola Roof developer community will remain in control of the design and Open Source specifications given to the commercial materials/components/systems supply sector while many members will also join SE Net as service & technical support providers to the user community.
My goal is to establish an organic pattern for Sola Roof to go viral, to be as big as it is important as a solution to the challenging problems of our times. I don’t want to see this potential lost through compromise or confusion and that is why this Sola Roof Wiki has been created - to be a tool for Community Building, to inspire and invite and support action by households; to support a massively parallel development at sites widely distributed around the world. That is my vision, you are all invited to help make it happen!